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Events Summary 2021
Webinar: Mekong Undercurrents Amidst the US-China Geostrategic Rivalry: Pandemic Trends and Prospects 
Mekong Region and mainland Southeast Asia in view of the intensifying United States-China geostrategic rivalry in pandemic times. The format is a little different this time, involving more think-tank and academic experts and analysts. We will delve into two main issues: the broader geopolitics of Asia, with a particular focus on Mekong/mainland Southeast Asia. Accordingly, there will be two sessions of one hour each within the two-hour webinar. The main premise is that we have not been hearing Chinese views sufficiently during the pandemic and that we need to listen to them more. At the same time, we also want to sound out views from around the region for our Chinese colleagues and interlocutors to hear, both in the broader geopolitical frame and with reference to Mekong issues and concerns.

In doing so, our line-up of speakers includes views and voices from Cambodia, New Zealand, Thailand, and Vietnam, apart from China. As this event builds on a similar Mekong workshop in Chiang Rai in May 2019, partly to highlight and explore New Zealand’s longstanding development role in the Mekong region, it is being co-organised with the Asia New Zealand Foundation, with support from the Friedrich Naumann Foundation. 
Webinar: ASEAN at New Crossroads: Cambodia's 2022 Chair, Myanmar's Coup Crisis and Beyond 
ASEAN’s near-term prospects and dynamics as Cambodia assumes the rotational chairmanship of the 10-member grouping. When Cambodia took on this role in 2021, ASEAN for the first time failed to come up with a joint statement. At issue then was China’s role and influence in the South China Sea, and Cambodia was seen as siding with Beijing. Now ASEAN faces other challenges and crises. First and foremost is Myanmar’s coup on 1st February, ongoing civil war, and ensuing crises inside the country and abroad.

Moreover, outside powers appear less patient with ASEAN’s inability to do more on Myanmar and broker more effectively other issues and tensions in the region. Hence Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States have formed a security pact, known as AUKUS. ASEAN’s central regional platform is thus challenged. Accordingly, Cambodia’s role as ASEAN chair will be crucial. Will the Cambodian leadership shore up ASEAN’s credibility and effectiveness or will ASEAN’s internal divisions exacerbate, thereby further weakening “ASEAN centrality”? Should ASEAN undertake internal reforms to regain its footing moving forward? If so, how? These questions and issues will be addressed by leading analysts from Thailand and around the region 
Book Launch and Webinar of Facebook Live - The US-Thai Alliance and Asian International Relations 
Please see attached and below information about our next online/virtual public forum on Thailand-United States relations amidst the geopolitics of Asia. The bilateral relationship between Bangkok and Washington is not what it used to be, a treaty alliance that seems to be underperforming compared to times past. On the other hand, Thailand has edged closer to China in recent years as Thai domestic politics has turned inward and more authoritarian. Meanwhile, nearby neighbours, such as Vietnam (a former US foe in a grueling war) and Singapore, have tightened their ties with the US. On the fluid canvass of global politics, how are Thai-US relations to be understood and what is their likely trajectory in the near future? Addressing these questions will shine some light on Thailand’s broader relations with China and the outside world in Asia, Europe and elsewhere.

To do so, it is our pleasure to launch the newest and well-researched book on the subject – The US-Thai Alliance in Asian International Relations – co-authored by Dr Greg Raymond and Prof John Blaxland, two foremost scholars who are seasoned observers of Thai politics and experts on international affairs. Dr Pongphisoot Busbarat, my colleague and accomplished researcher and writer on Thai foreign relations, will tease out some of the key issues and themes as discussant. 
Book Launch and Webinar on Facebook Live – Rivers of Iron: Railroads and Chinese Power in Southeast Asia 
This event is billed as a book launch, thanks to Prof David Lampton, Dr Cheng-Chwee Kuik and Dr Selina Ho, the co-authors of Rivers of Iron: Railroads and Chinese Power in Southeast Asia. This timely (pre-pandemic) book examines President Xi Jinping’s BRI geostrategy and its implications and consequences for mainland Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam), extending to Malaysia and Singapore. 
Facebook Live – The 45th Anniversary of Vietnam-Thailand Relations: Taking Stock and Moving Forward 
As this year marks the 45th anniversary of Thailand-Vietnam relations, it is therefore opportune to review this remarkable friendship in a forward-looking fashion. Thai-Vietnamese ties have gone through ups and down over the past four decades. Today, both countries are designated as a Strengthened Strategic Partnership to enhance the linkages of their economies and ensure that they will emerge stronger from the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, as Asean members, they work closely together to promote economic prosperity and the integration of the Asean Community as well as its centrality to maintain peace and stability in the region. 
ISIS Thailand co-hosts with Frontier Myanmar on "Myanmar Economic Summit: Navigating the Crises" 
Join Frontier Myanmar’s inaugural “Myanmar Economic Summit 2021: Navigating the Crises” as we bring together the nation’s leading economists, policy experts, advocates, investors and corporate leaders to examine the immediate and multiple crises facing Myanmar, and their implications for the economy. 
Facebook Live – Myanmar’s Coup Six Months On: Domestic/Regional/Global Dynamics/Responses/Prospects 
The impetus for holding this webinar is to take stock of what has transpired since the coup on 1st February six months previously and to anticipate what might come next. Has Myanmar entered into a prolonged period of civil war and stalemate in view of the Myanmar military/Tatmadaw’s grip on power and inability to put down an oppositional resistance and insurrection from the different columns under the civilian-led National Unity Government, including the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM), the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), Ethnic Armed Organisations (EAOs), and People’s Defence Force (PDF)? 
Facebook Live - Virus/Vaccine Dynamics/Challenges in the Mekong Region: The Regionalisation Imperative? 
As the coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) moves from the virus stage to vaccine rollout around the world, the five countries in mainland Southeast Asia around the Mekong Region have become so integrated and connected in recent decades through migrant labour flows, infrastructure linkages, trade/investment ties, and border commerce that each’s economic recovery and post-pandemic “new normal” may be limited and constrained unless the whole of the region can re-emerge together. This public forum focuses on the regionalisation perspective of vaccines and explores the extent to which vaccine rollout can and should be viewed in the Mekong regional context. In doing so, we will also examine stages of herd immunity and when the Mekong mainland countries are likely to get there. 
Rescheduled Event - Geoeconomic and Geopolitical Power Plays: The Major Powers and Southeast Asia, Friday, 14th Mayl 2021 
This webinar focuses on dynamics and prospects in relations between the major powers and smaller states in Southeast Asia in the 2020s and beyond. We will begin with China-Australia ties and tensions to draw lessons for Southeast Asian states, and then look at the United States’ economic measures and pressures vis-à-vis smaller countries in recent years. As both superpowers have deployed tools of economic statecraft to get their way in international politics, the smaller states in the region need to observe and anticipate what comes next in future exercises of soft/hard geopolitical and geoeconomic power from bigger players. Because of the nature of Chinese power and the structure and methods of China's successful authoritarian capitalist economy with centralised political control, Beijing appears to play by both its own and the established rules and norms. The US also has vested interests and agenda, having recently violated the rules-based liberal international order it crucially crafted around seven decades ago. 
Book Launch via Zoom - Man of Contradictions: Joko Widodo and the struggle to remake Indonesia at Tuesday 27th April 2021 
Book Launch and Discussion via Zoom - Tuesday 27th April 2021 09.00 a.m. – 10.00 a.m. (Bangkok/Thailand) / 12.00 p.m. – 13.00 a.m. (Sydney/Australia) 
Facebook Live – The Empire Strikes Back: What’s Left of Thailand’s Youth Protest Movement? 
Tuesday, 30th March 2021 at 09.30 a.m. - 11.30 a.m.

In late February 2020, anti-government flash mobs started to mushroom on university campuses in reaction to the dissolution of Future Forward Party, which had been the third-largest winning party in the March 2019 polls. The initial campus protests were interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic and consequent restrictions and lockdown in March-May 2020 but resumed with popularity and intensity in June. Over the subsequent months, the youth protest movement gathered steam and transformed into an anti-Establishment drive. It first called for a halt to official harassment, constitutional amendments, and new polls. Later, the three demands became the resignation of the prime minister, a new constitution, and monarchical reform. Street protests peaked in October-November 2020, involving tens of thousands of mostly young demonstrators, mirrored by similar activities on campuses. By December 2020, as the second Covid-19 wave struck, the youth protest movement lost momentum, undermined by internal divisions, an inability to broaden, and the arrest of key leaders. By early 2021, the movement appears a shell of itself, diluted and fizzled. This public forum intends to analyse and locate the underpinnings and dynamics of what is left of the movement in a forward-looking fashion to see whether it still has traction or otherwise. 
Facebook Live – Myanmar (One Month) After The Coup: Domestic Politics, Regional Repercussions, Global Implications 
Monday, 1st March 2021 at 09.30-11.30 a.m.

As Myanmar’s military coup reaches its one-month mark, it is timely to take stock of what’s been happening in the predominantly Buddhist country of 55 million. By all accounts, the coup has been a setback for Myanmar’s road towards political liberalization and economic development. Under fluid and precarious circumstances, we will examine post-coup events and dynamics from the domestic politics context within Myanmar and regional repercussions in Southeast Asia as well as global implications in view of China, Russia, and the West. What is the status and road ahead for the Myanmar military (the Tatmadaw) and its commander-in-chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing? Where does Aung San Suu Kyi, at 75, go from here? Where does the future lie for the ethnic minorities around the country and what about the persistent internal conflicts between the Tatmadaw and ethnic armies? These are some of the hard questions this public forum will try to address. Our speakers line-up represents a range of diverse views and experiences which I think will add up to a dynamic and stimulating conversation. 
Facebook Live – Thailand’s Economic Outlook 2021 and Beyond: Vaccine, Growth, Value Chains 
Thursday, 18th February 2021 at 09.30-11.30 a.m.

As the most recent Covid-19 restrictions have been eased, ISIS Thailand is pleased to return to action with a limited in-person public forum on vaccine dynamics, the Thai macro-economy and future growth model in view of pandemic effects and shifting/fluid global value chains. We are delighted to have Dr Daniel Kertesz, the head of the World Health Organisation in Thailand, kick off with his expert view and analysis of the global Covid-19 pandemic and the vaccine situation broadly, with reference to Thailand and Southeast Asia. An independent and highly regarded economist, Dr Supavud Saicheua will delve into Thailand’s macroeconomic consequences from the pandemic. When will Thailand regain its growth footing and how to get there after a severe economic contraction last year? With publications on global value chains in top international scholarly journals, Dr Pavida Pananond will tease out the trends and prospects of trade, foreign direction investment and global production in the post-pandemic global economy with implications for Thailand and Southeast Asia.